Based on the immigration experience of the film’s director and writer, Ela Thier, Foreign Letters explores both the warmth and pitfalls of adolescent friendship in the story of Israeli immigrant Ellie and Vietnamese refugee Thuy.
At the beginning of the film, Ellie knows only a handful of English words. Instead we hear her exuberant voice in the Hebrew letters she exchanges with her best friend in Israel: “To my best friend in the entire universe times infinity.”
Eventually, Ellie and Thuy begin exchanging their own notes and letters about boys and secrets and the highs and lows of being 12 going on 13. And what is foreign is not so much that Ellie is from Israel or Thuy from Vietnam, but rather that they are both stumbling into a new phase of their lives.
Much of the film’s power lies in its honesty. Ellie and Thuy are smart, interesting, and full of zest, but they’re not perfect. They hurt one another, and their friendship teeters. But ultimately they find a way to regain their balance and their bond, reminding us how wonderful it is to have a best friend in the entire universe times infinity.
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